Last month Scott Mendelson at Forbes posted an
incendiary article where he postulated the view that the crop of animated films
released over the summer constituted a glut of the artform.
Well, now he’s making amends; sort of. In another
piece posted on Forbes, Mendelson qualifies his remarks and
manages to do so in an honest way that really shouldn’t offend anyone because,
it comes to discussing mainstream animated films in America, it is
unfortunately a question of genre. Artistically and especially financially
speaking, films like Cloudy With A
Chance Of Meatballs 2 and Turbo are
indeed cut from similar cloth in that they are basically targeting the same
audience. We might decry this fact, but American animated films are still
considered child’s play, a notion that heavily influences who they are aimed at
and how they are made.”
It’s tough to take the view that all the animated films released
so far this year have represented a wide range of genres and styles and been
seen by a varied mix of audiences. That’s because it’s simply not the case.
If animated features are all created for, and released to, the
same audience, and feature the same style of storytelling for which we can
blame Pixar (no, really, we can; wise-cracking characters on a journey of
self-discovery and not a song in sight? Toy Story did it first), then for all
intents and purposes, the technique appears to the average Joe Public as a
To be clear, it isn’t a case that animation is a genre, it’s just that without the presence of animated films
in specified genres, it may as well be one. And to go even further, it isn’t
even a feature film problem, it’s an American feature film one.
American studios are the ones who have latched onto the
hit-making formula and are in the process of running as far as they can with
it. Features from other countries are far less stymied by the same problems.
Partly because of cultural reasons, but also partly because they are more
willing to take risks with their storytelling.
Mendelson perhaps sums it up
have a wide variety of American animated films being produced for mass
consumption, in different genres and aimed at different audiences, American
animation is unfortunately a category unto itself. It arguably shouldn’t be the
case and certainly does not have to be the case, but for now, it most certainly
is the case.”
The question now is, how long will the situation remain like
this, and what will it be like when the hypothetical music eventually stops?
Charles Kenny writes prolifically on his own blog, The Animation Anomaly.